We visited five African nations in southern Africa: South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia
We planned our trip with the help of a wonderful travel agent in Cape Town, South Africa:
Ramona Rubach Africa Safari Expert.
We flew to Johannesburg from Washington DC and stayed overnight to catch a morning flight out to Zambia.
We stayed at the African Rock Hotel ($193 per night including breakfast), and it was certainly an excellent choice. Only 15 minutes from the airport, the hotel was entirely gated and had high security (it seems that most places in the capital city of South Africa feel the need for security). The room was stylish but the best thing about the hotel was it’s in-house restaurant. We had our own private chef who catered to us and prepared an outstanding meal for our first day in Africa.
South Luangwa National Park
We flew from Johannesburg to Lusaka, then to Mfuwe to safari for a few days in South Luangwa National Park. We stayed at the Sanctuary Chichele Presidential Lodge, the vacation home of the former president of Zambia.
We were the only guests at the lodge. They offer a menu of excellent western food but I also recommend trying what the locals eat. They have nshima and relish every day for lunch and dinner.
We were awakened each morning early at 5:30 am, had breakfast and went for 4 x 4 safaris and walking safaris, with our guide Ernest. After the morning safaris we returned to the lodge, had lunch and a siesta and then went out for sunset/ evening safaris. We saw numerous animals on every safari and were catered to personally and exquisitely by Ernest and all other lodge personnel. In all our travels we have never felt so well cared for.
The price of the lodge included everything – the room, all meals, all safaris and other activities. ($533 per night for two persons)
Well it’s impossible to go to southern Africa and not make a stop at Victoria Falls (Dr. Livingston I presume?)
We stayed at Stanley Safari Lodge ($646 per night for two, lodging, food and activities included)
The lodge was beautiful, away from the tourism in the city, and they offered us a personal butler, Peter, who attended very well to our every little need (and I have been accused of being a high maintenance tourist by some). Yeahs mama, yeahs papa.
My only criticism of the lodge was that they didn’t offer a choice of food on the menu, one had to eat the one dish that the chef was inclined to make, and which was not always what I desired.
*Walk the falls from the Zambian side one day and from the Zimbabwean side the next. Splurge on getting a VISA to enter Zimbabwe and view the falls from this side and tour the town of Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwe side of the falls gives one a greater perspective since it is further from the falls than the Zambian side. Stop by the expensive Victoria Falls Hotel and have a drink on their outdoor patio offering exquisite views of the Falls and some interesting people watching. Walk across the bridge that is a source of entertainment for the locals. (Bungee jumping on certain days.) You will be approached by vendors on the bridge, many of whom have a hard time with the words “no thank-you”.
*Take a helicopter ride over the falls, or better yet, if you have the stomach for it, take the ultra-light ride over the falls. Both are $$$$$.
*Sign up for a sunset cruise on the Zambezi River. This was a real delight. (Surprisingly so.) It included a “happy hour” of high quality finger foods and your choice of beverages.
*Take a local village tour which offers a unique view of tribal life. Word of caution: You will be under lots of pressure to purchase wood carvings made in the local villages.
We drove to Chobe and stayed at the famous Chobe Game Lodge.
All of the lodges we stayed at in Botswana were part of “Desert and Delta Safaris” which are owned and operated entirely by the Botswana people. Botswana is more expensive than the other places in Africa that we visited. All lodges cost $865 per night for two, including all meals, safaris and transportation.
Chobe Lodge is a 5 star lodge on the Chobe river. Excellent, but we would recommend the smaller lodges instead which offer a more personal and authentic African experience. This hotel was very western and catered to a demanding clientele. The “spa” and “gift shop” as well as the bar and the restaurant could have been in any Four Seasons Hotel in the world.
At Chobe we had morning and afternoon 4 x 4 safari’s and a boat safari on the Chobe River. Our tour guide was Emma. This was the only lodge that had female guides. The game drives were outstanding.
We took a one hour small plane ride to the Okavango Delta. The pilots are young females on all these small Air Safari flights.
The delta is fabulous. We stayed at Camp Okavango
If you had to pick just one experience in Botswana, this is it! The delta is by far the best of African. Our home was a small tented camp on an island in the delta. No vehicles, just walking and river safaris on the delta.
We took several mokoro (traditional canoe) rides on the delta and watched a stork catch a snake, an owl, and the elephants crossing the delta.
Our guide was Tao, and he was fond of saying “Are you winning Paul? Are you still strong Paul?” as we walked for hours and hours on the small islands in search of game.
Daily long morning safari walks (4 hours) on nearby islands and motorboat rides to the islands.
One afternoon Tao took us fishing and I caught five Yellow Brest Large Mouth fish. The chef prepared them for the camp guests for dinner. Yummy!
Try the African liquor Amarula, an African after dinner drink like Bailey’s. Be sure to say Pula (the African drinking toast meaning currency, rain, peace)
Another 30 minute small plane ride to Savute. Stayed at the Savute Safari Lodge.
Savute is similar in terrain to Chobe, the animals are similar. Savute Safari Lodge is a small tented camp offering only 4 x 4 safaris. Aside from hundreds of elephants, we saw lions, a leopard and cheetahs. Baba is our guide (a rebel). The Botswana and Zambian people are very friendly, offer great personal service and really try to please. They eat with you and try to have a personal experience with each guest.
Our room overlooks a water hole and elephants are constantly in view. Dinner with the elephants, where else on Desto3 can one have an experience like this. Incomparable.
Flew from Savute to Maun and then onto Windhoek, Namibia. We stayed overnight in Windhoek at the Olive Grove Guesthouse ($203 per night including breakfast)
The Olive Grove Guesthouse was the perfect place to relax before journeying to our next adventure in the Kalahari desert. Highly recommended.
Be sure to walk around the main streets of Windhoek, visit the crafts market and have lunch at the Crafts Café.
Morning transfer from the guesthouse to Eros airport in Windhoek and boarded another 4 seater plane with another young female pilot to Sossusvlei (1 hour flight) and arrived at our impressive lodge with time to relax before lunch. We stayed at the Kulala Desert Lodge operated by Wilderness Safaris. ($690 per night for two including all meals and safaris)
*Morning and afternoon drives to the red dunes. Our guide was Ambrosius Kharutsaiva
*Afternoon drive to Sesriem, Sossus dunes and a hike down Sossus canyon.
*Sunrise drive into the Namibia Naukluft Park and walk on the dunes (dune 45, big daddy, big mama, dead vlei)
*Afternoon walk along the river trail from the lodge to the water hole in the desert.
* Extra: Early morning balloon ride over the Kalahari desert. US$395 per person but well worth it. Includes Champaign breakfast in the desert. This is a don’t miss experience!
Stayed at the More Quarters Apartments ($250 per night for two including breakfast)
A beautiful hotel apartment in an excellent area of town within walking distance of restaurants, shops and the downtown area.
*Be sure to walk around town during the day and take the cable car up to table mountain for sunset.
*We recommend either renting a car for excursions outside the city or, if you don’t wish to drive on the wrong side of the road (!), taking a full day private tour to Cape Hope and then onto wine country ($340 for full day tour)
*Take the “Short walk to freedom” full day tour which takes you to a township (Langa) and then Robben Island, the maximum security prison where Nelson Mandela was kept for 19 years ($340 for full day tour)
Try having dinner at a small bistro on Kloof St. near the More Quarters Hotel, Cafe Paradiso, nice local atmosphere. Try the ostrich steak.
Visit Camps Bay and, after walking on the beach or going for a swim, have dinner at one of the many seafood restaurants that line the street such as Zen Zero.
Finally, don’t miss dining at Gold Restaurant, a fabulous African restaurant with an assortment of traditional African dishes and an attentive staff dressed in native costumes, wonderful decor and West African dancing.